A SAMPLING TOUR | Donna Gillespie
Chocolate chip cookies abound at many of the bakeries in the Fillmore, and I’ve long been a fan of this particular type of cookie. So I went on a sampling tour — one cookie per day — to compare and rate the chocolate chip cookies in the neighborhood.
First, I must be upfront about my cookie biases. The ideal chocolate chip cookie should be warm delicately crispy on the outside and medium rare in the middle, seriously flirting with underbaked. Nuts are a plus. I prefer Belgian milk chocolate chips — big, chunky ones — but will accept semisweet if the chips are nested, half-melted, in enough gooey goodness.
BAKER & BANKER
1701 Octavia Street
(The bakery entrance is around the corner on Bush Street.)
What is described as a “brown butter chocolate chip cookie” at first glance looked a little overbrowned and I thought it might be dry. But I found it invitingly soft inside. The outer crispness served to seal all the moisture in; it was just as moist as any cookie pulled right out of the oven. This is a big cookie — easily two cookies’ worth. The chip — or chunk — count is generous as well, so many they fuse together into a single chunk, giving the effect of a creamy chocolate center. These are high-quality dark chocolate chunks that even at room temperature have the texture of hot string cheese. The milk-chocolate-or-else grinch in me was totally silenced. These chips are that good. No nuts, but I didn’t miss them. The baker explained the butter is browned before it’s added to the dough, which helps kick out the flavor of the chocolate. On top of this, they sprinkle on vanilla salt.
Cost: $3, or $10 for a roll of ready-to-bake dough
Rating: 5 chips
BUMZY’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
1460 Fillmore Street
I was expecting a lot from a bakery devoted entirely to the art of the cookie — and Bumzy’s didn’t disappoint. Its chocolate chip version competes with the likes of sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies and lemon frosted snaps, all home baked according to family recipes. Behind the counter I saw a stack of small plastic mixing bowls, just like you’d use at home — solid evidence the cookies are baked in small batches. If chocolate chip is your choice, you still have decisions to make: dark chips or milk? Walnuts? I ordered the Bumzy’s Classic and it arrived not just warm, but hot. It was a superb cookie — so buttery soft in the middle I thought it doesn’t get better than this unless you sneak some of the raw dough out of the mixing bowl. The chips were oozing. The cookie steamed. I wanted to put down the cookie and clap. I walked out happy and full because I was given a lemon frosted snap to sample while I made up my mind.
Rating: 5 chips
1890 Fillmore Street
This chocolate chip cookie features pecans. I found it especially interesting visually — perfectly round with crispy, almost lacy edges, and evenly sprinkled with small chips. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call it pretty; I can see this one gracing a magazine cover. It also had a distinct crunch — the cookie’s natural crunchiness accentuated by the pecans, which were broken into small pieces and very fresh. The chips are dark chocolate. The cookie wasn’t particularly moist, but that lively crunch made up for that minor deficiency. Worth a return trip.
Rating: 4 chips
1910 Fillmore Street
This cookie has great presence. I have to give it an extra chip just for appearance: the funky, lumpy, home-baked look I love. Who gets a smooth, perfectly circular cookie when you bake them at home? This one is a medium-sized cookie generously supplied with large dark chocolate chunks that tend to melt into a seam of creamy chocolate in the center. This cookie is just a little on the crusty, dry side for me — but tasty enough that I would definitely want to repeat the experience.
Rating: 5 chips
2123 Fillmore Street
This chocolate chip cookie features a sprinkling of toffee. It is a cookie of size, only slightly smaller than Baker and Banker’s. The chips are small, too, semisweet and well scattered throughout. This one was soft, sugary and a little gritty in texture. Not bad, very fresh — but this time my bias toward milk chocolate kicked in. The toffee flavor was subtle; I’m not sure I would have noticed it if I hadn’t known it was there.
Rating: 4 chips
2325 Pine Street
This chocolate chip cookie did not have a lot of presence; it’s small and easy to miss among all the luscious pastries on display behind the counter at this French bakery. The cookie is browned and crisp around the edges. The chips are small, too, and made with dark chocolate that was, to my taste, very bittersweet. I found the cookie a little dry. Much as I love just about everything else La Boulange makes, this cookie didn’t inspire me to immediately contemplate my next trip back for another. But come to think of it, should an authentic French boulangerie be expected to excel at chocolate chip cookies? C’est la vie.
Rating: 3 chips
Are there others? If we’ve missed other excellent chocolate chip cookies available in the neighborhood, let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed under: Food, Drink & Lodging